Looking for the best fino sherries to buy? Want to know more about Spain’s wine-making region? Read our expert guide, then check out our guide to English pinot noirs, Sancerre and Loire Valley wines and the best albariño wines to buy.
Sherry’s long-awaited revival
After decades in the doldrums, sherry is shrugging off its fusty image and enjoying a much-deserved revival. Sales have shown a 13 per cent rise over the past year, with fino and manzanilla, the driest styles, leading the growth. I’m rarely without a bottle of fino or manzanilla in my fridge – they’re among my favourite things to drink to mark the end of a day. They make fantastic aperitifs, especially with roasted almonds or olives alongside, but are good with so many other things besides.
Traditionally served well-chilled in small, tulip-shaped glasses called copitas, and sipped slowly to appreciate their nuances, they are also great for cocktails and long drinks. Sling 75ml of sherry into a glass filled with ice, then add tonic to make a She & T; or add lemonade, which turns it into a rebujito, garnished with mint, a green olive and/or a slice of lemon, as downed by the bucketload at summer fiestas in the south of Spain. I’ve also used them with great success in place of vermouth in a negroni or a dry martini.
Finos come from the Andalusian city of Jerez, from which sherry gets its name. They are made from dry wine, usually from the palomino grape, that’s fortified with spirit then left to age in barrels laid on their sides and piled high in vast cathedral-like buildings called bodegas. Some space is left above the wine allowing a veil of yeast called the flor to grow, preventing it from oxidising while also imparting sherry’s uniquely nutty, savoury flavours as it ages.
Manzanilla is made in the same way but in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, north-west of Jerez, where the humid sea air makes the flor grow thicker and gives the sherry its characteristic salty freshness.
Finos and manzanillas labelled ‘en rama’ are those bottled straight from the barrel, usually released each May to the great excitement of the sherry-loving community, with little or no filtering, giving a richer, more intense flavour to the sherry.
Best sherries to buy
While this doesn’t have the complexities of many other finos, it’s a great introduction to dry sherry at a really affordable price.
This ticks all the boxes of a great manzanilla – bracingly fresh with a really appetising salty zip on the finish. The tempura squid with ponzu dipping sauce would be an ace match.
Tio Pepe, made since 1841, is the world’s best-selling fino, and great value for money. This en rama bottling is more intense and complex, with notes of almonds, salted lemons and baked apples.
Lustau makes a huge range of sherries in different styles, both in Jerez and in El Puerto de Santa María, a seaside town from which this comes. Delightfully fresh, fragrant and yeasty, try it with the salt and pepper squid with chilli and spring onions.
Incredible value for this award-winning manzanilla that’s aged for 12 years, giving extra depth to its salty, nutty flavours. Ideal with the grilled sardines with tomato and almond salad and sherry vinegar dressing.